On appeal from New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation.
Petrella, O'Brien and Stern. The opinion of the court was delivered by O'Brien, J.A.D.
Amalgamated Industrial Union Local 76B (Union) appeals from a judgment of the Workers' Compensation Court finding petitioner entitled to dependency benefits as a result of the death of her husband following an automobile accident on December 26, 1985. We reverse.
At the time of his death, Peter Manzo was president of the Union, having held that position for approximately five years. He was also vice-president of the International Union, a separate entity. On December 26, 1985, Mr. Manzo sustained injuries in an automobile accident. At the time of the accident, Mr. Manzo was driving an automobile, leased by the Union, from his home in Lodi to the union office in New York City. The judge of compensation found that the accident occurred at 6:20 a.m., on I-95 in Teaneck. Although the immediate cause
of death was occlusive coronary artery disease, as determined by an autopsy performed by the medical examiner and stated in the death certificate, the medical examiner also found:
With regard to the actual etiology of Mr. Manzo's demise however I believe it is fair to say in terms of medical probability that there is a causal relationship between Mr. Manzo's death and either the multiple traumas which resulted from the accident or the combined effect of those traumas and the trauma of surgery upon him, taking into account his underlying cardiac condition.*fn1 [Footnote supplied.]
At issue is whether petitioner's claim is barred by the "going and coming" rule. The judge of compensation concluded it was not and the employer appeals. The "going and coming" rule ordinarily precludes an award of compensation benefits for injuries sustained during routine travel to and from an employee's regular place of work. Since the rule had became diluted by a series of exceptions, in 1979 the Legislature included in its extensive amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act, L. 1979, c. 283, a provision defining when employment commences. See Livingstone v. Abraham & Straus, Inc., 111 N.J. 89, 96, 543 A.2d 45 (1988). This legislation reflects the Legislature's disagreement with the judiciary's broad reading of the statutory criteria for coverage. The Legislature drafted the statute to "establish [ ] relief from the farreaching effect of the 'going and coming rule' decisions by defining and limiting the scope of employment." Id. at 100-101, 543 A.2d 45. Thus, N.J.S.A. 34:15-36 was amended to include the following pertinent language:
Employment shall be deemed to commence when an employee arrives at the employer's place of employment to report for work and shall terminate when the employee leaves the employer's place of employment, excluding areas not under the control of the employer; provided, however, when the employee is required by the employer to be away from the employer's place of employment, the employee shall be deemed to be in the course of employment when the employee is engaged in the direct performance of duties assigned or directed by
the employer; but the employment of employee paid travel time by an employer for time spent traveling to and from a job site or of any employee who utilizes an employer authorized vehicle shall commence and terminate with the time spent traveling to and from a job site or the authorized operation of a vehicle on business authorized by the employer.
In his extensive fact-finding in this case, the judge of compensation found that Manzo's home in Lodi had become a "job site" by virtue of the union business being conducted there.*fn2 He further concluded that before leaving home on the morning of his death Manzo was performing union business. Therefore, his trip on the morning in question from his home to his office was found by the judge of compensation to have occurred while he was going from one job site to another and thus arose out of and in ...